"Ignaz Friedman (1882–1948) was a Polish pianist and composer. Critics and colleagues alike placed him among the supreme piano virtuosi of his day, alongside Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal, Josef Hofmann and Josef Lhévinne.
His style was quiet and effortless, imbued with a sense of rhythm and color, grounded in a sovereign technique, and much has been written about his peerless interpretations of Chopin in particular.
As with his compatriot Moriz Rosenthal, Friedman's Chopin interpretations, particularly those of the mazurkas, are considered by many to be unsurpassed. Rachmaninoff admired Friedman's playing very much and considered him as a great virtuoso in a style more romantic than his own."
"His style was completely his own, and it was marked by a combination of incredible technique, musical freedom (some called it eccentricity), a tone that simply soared, and a naturally big approach, with dynamic extremes that tended to make a Chopin mazurka sound like an epic. In his youth he was accused of uncontrolled banging, and the charge may be true. He must have had something of Rosenthal's approach in his make-up: a colossal technique that sometimes would run away. As he matured he was able to control his fingers, and whatever he did was because he specifically wanted it so. He handled a melodic line inimitably — deftly outlining it against the bass, never allowing it to sag, always providing interest by a unique stress or accent. As he thought big, he played big.
His recording of Chopin's Revolutionary Etude is a remarkable, magnificent conception. To provide impetus, Friedman runs the left-hand arpeggios with tremendous speed — running the notes together so that they slur a bit up to the climactic E flat. The effect is heroic, though purists might wrinkle their nose. Equally remarkable are his records of a series of Chopin mazurkas and Mendelssohn's Songs without Words. Again he does not play by the book — he was a true child of the late romantic age and, especially in the Chopin, his rhythms, accents and volcanic approach are apt to unsettle conservative listeners. But the more one hears them, the more one admires.
And his recording of Chopin's E flat Nocturne (Op. 55, No. 2) may well be the most beautiful, singing, perfectly proportioned performance of a Chopin nocturne ever put on records. Like him or not, Friedman was a force — a powerful, unusual, original pianist, sometimes erratic but always fascinating, and always full of imagination and daring."
- Harold C. Schonberg, Great Pianists (1987)
Chopin, Nocturne Op. 55, No. 2 (1936)
Chopin - Etude op.10 n°12 ("Revolutionary")
Ignaz Friedman talking about Chopin and playing a mazurka (1940)
Chopin - Mazurkas (1930)